MILLIONS of patients across the country are going to A&E because they are not able to get an appointment to see their GP, research has shown.

Research published in the British Journal of Medical Practice (BJMP) this week showed 1.7 per cent of people who attempted to get an appointment with their GP instead resorted to going to hospital, equating to 5.77 million from 2012 to 2013.

The amount of people visiting A&E at Worcestershire Royal Hospital and Redditch’s Alexandra Hospital has risen steadily over the past few years, having a knock-on effect on waiting times and the amount of time patients are forced to wait for operations.

A report presented to the governing board of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust last week heard slightly more than 13,000 people visited had A&E in the county in May – almost 1,500 more than in December and January, when demand on A&E is traditionally at its greatest.

The figures follow a recent warning by the British Medical Association that two-week waits for a routine GP appointment could soon become commonplace.

Deputy chairman of the organisation’s GP committee Dr Richard Vautrey said practices were coming under serious pressure from increased demand, an aging population and government funding cuts.

“Given the unsustainable strain on GP services, it is understandable that patients are becoming frustrated at the number of appointments available, something that GPs are just as concerned about,” he said.

It is estimated that about 450,000 people visit A&E across the UK every week.

In a bid to keep pressures on hospitals down throughout the colder months, South Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Group this winter launched a campaign dubbed Is A&E For Me? encouraging people to visit minor injury units or their doctors rather than A&E except in a genuine emergency.

Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust also runs Minor Injury Units in Kidderminster and Tenbury – both of which are open 24 hours a day – as well as Malvern, Evesham and Bromsgrove.

The facilities are able to deal with cuts, grazes, sprains, strains, minor burns and broken bones.

For health advice out of hours call NHS 111.

In an emergency always call 999.